Q & A with Lee Hamill

lh-headshotLee Hamill is the Deputy Director of Finance and joined the University in 2015 from BT, where he led their successful London 2012 Olympic Games and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games programs. He is also the Finance Transformation Programme’s sponsor.

So what does a programme sponsor do?

I’m really here to make sure that the programme has the right support at all levels in the organisation. In practice that can mean a number of things: acting as a champion for the programme, helping to open doors and making sure that all the right people are talking to each other, as well as acting as a sounding board for any issues that crop up.  We have a fantastic team working on the Finance Transformation Programme, and they do a great job keeping everything on track in terms of performance, cost and time. I’m very proud to be part of the team and I have to say that they make my job very easy!

Why do we need a Finance Transformation Programme? Is there something wrong with what we’re doing now?

When we think about finance as a whole, the University of Edinburgh is in an enviable position. We have great people working across the professional finance community, and this is clear from the strength of our financial results year after year. However, a world-class university deserves nothing less than a world-class finance function and that’s what we’re striving for. This programme is all about setting out a vision for how we get there.

“Transformation” sounds ambitious, what does it involve?

The great thing about this project is that we are approaching it with a completely open mind. That means that all aspects of ‘finance’ are on the table to be considered.   Breaking it down a little further, we have been looking at our financial processes, policies, IT systems and applications, as well as less obvious – but no less important – items such as training and communication.

 Wouldn’t it be safer to start with a few small changes to see if they work?

Tinkering around the edges isn’t going to give us the step changes in performance, agility, efficiency and effectiveness that we’re looking for.  Remember, we’re aiming for world-class here so we need to be confident and take bold steps forward.   It’s also important to realise that small changes in one area can sometimes have unforeseen impacts elsewhere, so it’s critical that we look at the big picture.

We’ve had reviews and change programmes in the past, but things seemed to stay the same – what makes this programme different?

Since arriving at the University 18 months ago I’ve been really impressed at the level of commitment from colleagues at all levels.  We have the University’s senior leadership team driving this forward, and we’re supported every step of the way by colleagues from KPMG.  Together with each of the four programme teams, we’re committed to delivering real and lasting change.  I’ve also been struck by the passion, energy and great ideas & insight from colleagues across the University that I’ve met throughout the first stages of the programme.  Looking forward to 2017, I’m really excited about the impact that the Service Excellence Programme will have for each and every one of us.


The Finance Transformation Programme is now entering its second phase and will be running a new series of workshops in January and February aimed at developing solutions to the issues you’ve helped us identify. Further information, including a workshop schedule, will be available soon. 

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